Tuesday, 10 March 2009

work place blues

reading this post over at hoydens yesterday* got me thinking about one of the nastier effects of the current recession. as unemployment rises, there will be less pressure on employers to provide family friendly work practices.

couple this with the financial pressure on businesses, and they will seek to cut costs by getting more work out of fewer employees. which means longer working hours, particularly for those on salaries, and fewer part-time positions.

employers will tend to favour those employees who don't need to take time off for sick children and who don't need to rush off at the end of the day to pick up children from childcare. the pressures to ignore any kind of work-life balance is going to make working life a lot harsher and stressful.

then there was this little gem of a letter to the waikato times today:

Women Workers
At the recent employment summit, which participant revealed how many jobs could be made available to primary hoursehold providers if women providing secondary household incomes were to vacate the workforce?
Leo Leitch

nice. i wonder why he needs three long words to say "men"? cos the way that question is worded, he isn't making any room for the notion that women could be "primary household providers". nor does he care that a single income, at or near the minimum wage, is not enough maney to bring up a family.

wouldn't it be nice to live in his very simple world, where shunting women out of the workforce would solve the problems of the recession.

another thing that disturbed me recently was the international women's day event in wellington, where there was a lot of emphasis put on volunteering. while i'm all for encouraging people to get involved in the community, i'm really concerned that there will be an increasing expectation that social service work will be provided free of charge. this is work that should be paid for, a lot of it should be paid for by the government, but the pressure will be on to provide labour free of charge - especially if you're unemployed. it's a nice way to cut government spending & reduce the number of paid jobs available, while getting work done free of charge. except that the volunteers actually need money to live on, they need paid work.

it's just not looking good. for something a little more inspiring (and on another topic altogether), read this.


TidgeH said...

aaaaaaghhhh... i despair that there are still Leo Leitches in this world, if you have read his letter correctly. However, what would be even worse, is if he was asking a rhetorical question and someone at the job summit actually did reveal that utterly meaningless figure (well, meaningless unless you're sexist). i can't tell from his wording which meaning he was intending. either are bad, though.

stargazer said...

believe me, i have copied the letter verbatim with the paper in front of me!

Anonymous said...

Sigh. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Anonymous said...

In the past I have liked the idea of a family wage where one person works and earns enough for the family. I completely expect the working person to be either man ro woman.

However it occurs to me now that such a system could put childcare workers, cleaners, lawnmowing and gardening people and the like out of work.

Anna said...

It's interesting that some people are still under the quaint impression that one income is enough to support a family. It's possible to subsist on one, but if you want extras (ie extra-curricular opportunities for your kids), you either need a pretty big principal income, or a second one.

Anonymous said...

Anna, we are a single income family. My partner doesn't earn a huge wage but its more than average. We have 3 small children. I definetly DO NOT agree with you about subsistance living. We do fine. I economise a lot, but our kids do fine and attend extra-curricular activites.

I know many people would not want to do without the things we do but subsistance it is NOT.

Anna said...

Guess it depends on where you are. We have high costs - we live in Welly and I commute to work. So despite the fact I am on a reasonably good income, we don't have holidays or anything like that, all our clothes are second hand, etc (although my daughter does do gym). This doesn't bother me particularly, but I see people around me with less who are doing it tough. My daughter's schoolfriend lives in a house with one and a half incomes, and they have to get the kids' grandparents to pay the school fees. :-(

Anonymous said...

Anna - I've only recently left Wellington and we had a much lower income there. It was tough but just not subsistence as you phrased it. Our costs here are much the same - rent is a little cheaper but food is much dearer. Like you we don't have holidays, I buy 2nd hand, we don't have sky or a big screen TV.

I know some areas are much worse off. Living on a single average wage in Auckland I would imagine to be VERY tough. Living on a benefit there doesn't seem doable - and I guess that to me is where subsistence come in.

stargazer said...

it depends what you mean by "above average wage"? 70% of nz'ers are on or below the average wage, so for them it might not be quite so easy to get by. it also depends on what skills you have (in terms of home crafts, handywork etc to save money by doing things yourself) & the hours you're required to work to earn that money - which leaves fewer hours to, for example, maintain a vege garden.

i guess the main point is that requiring struggling families to live on one income isn't really going to solve anything in the current recession.

Uncle Remus said...

Do you people actually read what you write before you send it off ?

Julie said...

Is that supposed to be an argument of some sort Remus?

Uncle Remus said...

Well, I guess, Julie, that that's my point - you blokes present what you think, I presume, are arguments but they're actually just comments distorted by your ideological fixations.
For example, stargazer has misconstrued (not to mention mispelled) Leo Leitch's words "primary household providers" to mean "men". But she has no basis, except feminist outrage, to make that interpretation, does she ?
Where has Mr Leitch excluded the option that a woman might be a primary household provider ?
Nonetheless, it is a matter of fact that, in our community, men/husbands are the primary income provider in the huge majority of homes. And that's as Nature intended it, of course, as is pointed out by a later blogger who expresses concern about the loss of jobs in child care, lawn mowing, house cleaning, etc., if a lot of mothers stay at home.
And from that fact there emerges another fact which is that the incomes that women/mothers bring into households in our community are almost always secondary incomes.
Anyone for tennis, or maybe coffee ?